Bengaluru: Defending champion Karnataka need just four wickets to book their second consecutive berth in the final of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament as Mumbai are struggling at 277 for six in their second innings at stumps on the third day, here today.
Chasing a target of 445, Mumbai still need 168 runs with just four wickets in hand and two full days play remaining. Siddhesh Lad (41) and Abhishek Nayar (2) were at the crease when stumps were drawn. Karnataka bowlers made good use of the two-paced wicket as they did not let the visitors to go on the offensive.
Mumbai batsmen were kept on a tight leash by Karnataka captain R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun with good support from pacer Aravind Sreenath and leggie Shreyas Gopal.
Mithun was outstanding today as he bnow and then troubled the Mumbai top-order including skipper Aditya Tare, who was the top-scorer for the visitors with 98 off 207 balls, and inform Shreyas Iyer (50 off 66).
Mithun ran in hard and bowled his heart out, finishing with figures of three for 49 in 27 overs. Vinay, Gopal and Sreenath picked up one wicket each. Mumbai batsmen, though, had two sessions in their name but could not turn the heat against the hosts as they found scoring runs difficult on the two-paced wicket. Tare played a captain's knock, pacing his innings to perforction but unfortunately missed the century by just two runs.
Iyer was very lucky to have survived as he was dropped by wicketkepeer Robin Uthappa in very same over after Mithun sent back overnight batsman Akhil Herwadkar trapped leg before for 31 runs. Iyer grabbed the lifeline with both hands and made a brisk 50 studded with seven boundaries.
But Iyer gave away his wicket in search of two many big shots. He departed while trying to pull a Mithun delivery only to give a simple catch to J Suchith.
Apart from Tare and Iyer, no other Mumbai batsmen showed the intent to keep the scoreboard ticking, which was reflected in Surya Kumar Yadav and Lad's innings, who scored 36 runs off 119 balls and 41 not out off 99 balls.
The match is heading for an exciting finish on the fourth day as it can go either side. Mumbai will be hoping that they do not lose any wicket in the first session and Karnataka would love to run through the remaining of the visitors innings as quickly as possible. "Mumbai is a good side, and we know it. They were bowled out for 44 in the first innings and yet we did not take it easy. We have to take at least two quick wickets to make inroads tomorrow morning. Mumbai will keep coming hard on us, we know," Gopal told reporters.
Resuming at 61 for no loss, Mumbai went about chasing the target cautiously, wanting to see off Vinay and Mithun.
The first session belonged wholly to Tare, who dropped anchor and played a sedate innings, and remained 79 not out at lunch with the team total reading 166 for two.
The post lunch session belonged to Karnataka when they picked up three wickets, giving jitters to Mumbai. The second new ball did the trick as Mithun and Vinay removed Yadav (36) and Nikhil Patil (0) in quick succession.
While Yadav offered a catch to Uthappa behind the stumps, Patil was caught by Kunal Kapoor respectively. Arvind Sreenath tasted his first blood when he removed Tare, who unfortunately fell two runs short from registering his second century of the tournament. In his 98-run knock, Tare belted 15 boundaries At tea, taken were in a spot of bother at 234 for five.
In the post-tea session, Mumbai could score only 43 runs by losing the wicket of Wilkin Mota (9) when he became the victim of Gopal.